Letters

July 1, 2007 at 1:03 pm (Clinical rotations)

Dear Hispanic patients,

I am glad that you were so enthusiastic about the prospects of working in the United States that you illegally crossed the border to take the first available less-than-minimum wage job. However, would it have killed you to learn English? If I ever decide to move to another country, I would least want to study up on the local language and customs. Instead, when you’re sick, I can’t treat you without going through a translator. And when I tell you, “I don’t speak Spanish,” stop asking me questions in Spanish. And when I repeat myself by saying, “No hablo espanol,” don’t assume that I’m kidding just because I can at least pronounce the phrase properly. Yelling at me about your pain in another language is not going to get you treatment any faster.

Dear attendings,

Do you really need to put every patient on vancomycin, Zosyn, and fluconazole prophylactically? Only 4 of our patients have infections. The rest are clear of any disease. If your goal is to create a race of superbugs, you’re certainly on your way. Maybe if you washed your hands and used sterile gloves before inspecting a wound, we wouldn’t have to worry about infections to begin with.

Dear resident,

The sign says CONTACT PRECAUTIONS. What that means is that you can’t touch the patient directly. In other words, contact precautions = hands off. Strangely, you felt the need to ignore the signs, the gowns conveniently left outside of the patient’s room, and the nurse standing in the corner with her death scare. You pulled up the patient’s gown, put your bare hands on the wound spot, and then asked me to remove his staples. Why didn’t you find it strange that I gowned up before going to work on his staples? I know we’re scratching our heads over why our lady with the whipple has a festering wound, but I think it might have something to do with your sticking your non-sterile, non-washed, gloved hand into her abdomen twice a day.

Dear nurses,

Anticoagulants and arterial lines are a bad combination. When I found my patient in the ICU bleeding out, I had to stick my finger in his radial artery to plug up the hole. Certainly you can understand my annoyance of sitting at the bedside with my finger in his artery for half an hour—especially since you had gone on break and knew that he had been bleeding earlier in the morning. Don’t tell me that I can cover it up with gauze and he’ll be just fine. How do you think he got in this situation to begin with?

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5 Comments

  1. SusyCat said,

    Hmmm…sounds like you’re having a great time! very frustrating, hang in there and just make sure you don’t turn into one of those residents or attendings, and that’s the way you’ll make the world of medicine a better place for the rest of us!

  2. Bongi said,

    when i was young i was irritated at how stupid my father was. now that i’m an adult i’m continuously amazed by how much he has learned.

  3. iridium said,

    “I am glad that you were so enthusiastic about the prospects of working in the United States that you illegally crossed the border to take the first available less-than-minimum wage job. However, would it have killed you to learn English?”

    Well I hate to burst your bubble, but the Hispanic population are going to outpace the white population within the next few decades. Better brush up on the language skills.

  4. K. Egan said,

    I’m glad you are have the means and the flexibility to brush up on a new language and culture before considering a move to a new country. Keep in mind, however that these people who are taking on these underpaid positions are doing so because they lack the money and opportunity to learn the English that could score them a union gig.

    I think it’s hardly worth their time to weigh the choice of learning English versus finding the quickest means to feed their families. It’d be beautiful if they could, though… would make all our jobs easier too.

    I should remind you, though, that even English-speaking patients tend to get demanding and bitchy when they are in pain (and there are even some who aren’t in pain that end up being that way just for shits and giggles)

    Regards,

    K.

  5. Haroon said,

    It is students like you that we need to filter through to get to students who want to be surgeons. It is the work ethic of students like yourself that has resulted in the rise of poor physicians. Your just like any spoiled who suddenly thinks your know it all after 2 years of sitting in the classroom meanwhile you shake in your boots the first time your put on the line to make a patient assessment and deal with the stress of taking care of sick patients. You exemplify the exact attitude we despise of in the field of surgery, and fortunately for everyone you have been exposed for the rather weak medical student that you are.

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